Council’s public housing chair calls for more NYCHA funding in state budget

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The city councilmember who chairs the committee overseeing public housing has called on the state to increase funding for NYCHA repairs after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget failed to allocate any new money for the ailing complexes that house an estimated 600,000 New Yorkers.

Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel responded to an Eagle story that highlighted the lack of additional funding in Cuomo’s budget plan. 

“Decades of underfunding is the reason that NYCHA is currently in a state of crisis,” Ampry-Samuel said. “We need over $45 billion in repairs and maintenance. Acknowledging this means that we have to provide a financial means to ensure that the health and quality-of-life needs for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are met.”

Cuomo unveiled his budget and sent it to the state legislature on Jan. 21. Despite serious physical problems at public housing campuses across the city that would require tens of billions of dollars to address, his budget does not provide any new funding for NYCHA.

Instead, the executive budget reallocates $100 million that was directed to NYCHA last year, and $250 million that was first allocated in 2018. The funds are part of a $450 million agreement between the state, NYCHA and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, to pay for boiler and elevator upgrades at the city’s public housing complexes. 

The agency needs an estimated $31.8 billion over five years and $45.2 billion over 20 years to pay for necessary repairs and maintenance, a consulting firm hired by NYCHA to conduct a physical needs assessment determined in 2017. 

Councilmember Donovan Richards, who sits on the public housing committee, said Friday that it was “disappointing that the needs of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were not reflected in the administration’s proposal.”

A spokesperson for the New York State Division of the Budget told the Eagle that the state is committed to supporting NYCHA tenants.

“For years the New York City Housing Authority was underfunded by the Federal government and its administrators, and to help, New York State stepped up and made an unprecedented commitment to NYCHA for reliable heat, safe elevators and a better quality of life,” the spokesperson said.